An place for all those drawings   June 30th, 2010

I was running out of room for both the drawings and work-pieces on the table.  I had some MDF, 2×4’s, and some left-over boards from the fuselage kit shipping crate.  So, I made an easel…

Posted in Misc | Comments Closed

Blogger stopped allowing me to update the page, so we’re now running WordPress.

It maybe a while before we figure all this stuff out…the pictures are broken for now but will be up again shortly.

Some news:

  • The wings skins are done! — just waiting for the pitot tube to arrive in the mail to install it and store the wings until they’re ready to be mated to the fuselage!
  • The fuselage kit is here!
Posted in Misc | Comments Closed

What’s this blue stuff??   February 23rd, 2006

Most of the aluminum parts come with a blue plastic covering. Van’s recommends removing it as soon as possible. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to leave it on until I finish each piece, as it will help protect the aluminum pieces from getting scratched as I move them around.

I still needed to remove enough material to deburr, drill holes, etc. I used the old soldering iron trick. I used my Scotch-brite wheel to polish the tip of the iron into a nice blunt point, and ran it along a metal straight-edge to ‘score’ the plastic. I then used the same straight-edge as a guide to tear the unwanted plastic off.

Note that the iron is never actually going all the way through the plastic. It it just making it thin enough to where it’s easy to rip. This ensures the aluminum doesn’t get scratched if the iron isn’t perfectly smooth.

Posted in Misc | Comments Closed

Mr. Cheapass Strikes Again!   February 20th, 2006

Ok, so this isn’t plane-construction related, but I’ve gotta write it down for posterity.

Remember those nice tables I built? Well, I have a circular saw, but not a miter saw, and I figured I’d need to get one if I was to make straight cuts on all those 2×4’s.

I found a used 10″ saw on for $50, and snapped it up.

After finishing my workbenches, it was obvious the saw took up way too much space. So, I just listed it back on craigslist for $60! I figured there’s gotta be someone out there who’d buy it.

Well sure enough, I got a call the next day…Short story is I had a very happy customer who got a very nice power tool, and I got paid $10 for using a miter saw!

A guy at work said something like “Next time you need to use a miter saw you’d wish you hadn’t sold it” …Well, next time I need a saw I’ll just buy another one on craigslist!

Posted in Misc | Comments Closed

Enough of this cheap table!   February 20th, 2006

If you’ve been looking at the pictures on other postings, you’ll notice I’m using an eight-foot folding table as my work surface. I’m sick of it. It’s too low to the ground, to rickety, etc.

So, it’s time to build some real workbenches!

I downloaded the plans for the EAA 1000 standard worktable, and decided to make me a couple of them.

I ended up spending about $160, and got two ‘standard’ 2ftx5ft tables. I had enough material left over to do another two smaller tables (I did have to make a trip to HD for a few more 2X4’s).

Here’s a picture of the tables with the horizontal stabilizer skins sitting on them.

The plans for the tables call out ‘wood screws’. I bought the Zinc screws they sell at Home Depot in boxes of 50, and found out they are CRAP. Some of them are OK, but perhaps 20% of them had their head turn to mush when I screwed them in with my cordless drill. At first I thought I was maybe using too much force, or the wrong size screwdriver bit, but after trying on two or three different size bits, I got about the same results. The other 80% had no problems at all. Perhaps a woodworker out there can enlighten me?

Anyway, I think if I ever need to do this again, I’d buy the black ‘drywall’ screws. A lot cheaper, and I’ve never had a problem with screwing them in. Sure, the threads are a lot coarser, but the tables have so many screws it’s not going to matter.

Posted in Misc, Uncategorized | Comments Closed

I guess I need a shop now!   February 6th, 2006

I knew this day was going to come sooner or later. I would have a kit to put together, and nowhere to do it. My initial plan was to use an 8ft folding table, at least for the first few months, and then try to figure out what worked and what didn’t.

This also had the advantage of being able to clean things up, fold the table up, and lean it against the wall, leaving enough room to pull both cars in the garage.

Here’s a couple of pictures of the shop. Nothin’ fancy, as you can see..

You will note this funny looking pink stuff on the garage door. This is one of the best 60 bucks I’ve ever spent.You see, the difference between a bare-sheet-metal garage door, and an insulated one, is several hundred dollars (I recall it was over $600 at Home Depot). But, for about $60 of this pink stuff, and an afternoon of measuring and cutting, I get incredible insulation!

It can be 30 degrees outside but the garage is still comfortable enough to be in a short-sleeved shirt. Now, we don’t get many 30-degree days out here, but we do get MANY 90 and 100-degree days once the Texas summer rolls around! I’m hoping that’s where this stuff will really pay off! I will probably bring a fan out, or perhaps crack the house door open and let some of the Air-Conditioned air in the garage.

Eitherway, it will at least be bearable…

Posted in Misc | Comments Closed

A plane’s on my doorstep!   February 6th, 2006

I had made it a goal to at least order the Empennage kit before the end of 2005. I knew I wasn’t going to have much time to work on it until the end of January, but I figured having the kit here would give me an incentive to get all the other projects finished quickly.

So, I faxed in my order, got a tracking number, and expected to get the goods on a Monday. Well, my wife wasn’t feeling so good on Friday, so she stayed home. The Fedex guy happened to show up at around 3PM, and left the boxes in the living room. If my wife had not been sick, the guy would have probably left the two boxes outside the front door (that’s what the guy said!)… the two boxes with FRAGILE — HIGH DOLLAR AIRCRAFT PARTS stamped on them!

After I got home I opened them, and had them officially inspected (see picture)

Posted in Misc | Comments Closed

I figured if I’m embarking on such a ‘serious’ project, I should first screw up a few pieces of aluminum and build some self-confidence. So, I ordered Van’s training kits (yep, both of them..the ‘little wing‘ and the toolbox)

If were to do it again, I wouldn’t order both. One of them will give you enough practice to get started on the real thing.

I got through about 80% on both of them, and then put them aside to start on the real empennage kit. I actually did this for a reason. I would like to use these two kits as training for priming and painting as well, so I figured when I get to the point when I need to start priming empennage pieces, I’ll break out my training kit and prime them first. I will then hand them over to the final paint department (my wife!!!) so she can practice putting a top coat on them :-).

Posted in Misc | Comments Closed

Are You Sure You Want an RV-9?   November 1st, 2005

When I was at the Orndorff’s workshop, I mentioned the fact I was going to build an RV-9A. George suggested I give the RV-7A a second look. It’s faster, stronger, has a longer range, and is not really more difficult to fly. He told me I should at least get a ride in an RV-7 before ordering the first kit.

Then I went to my second local EAA meeting, and everyone there seemed to either be building an RV-7, or want to build one!

So, I decided it was time to get a ride in one! I called a Ron Walker, a local pilot who has an RV-7A, and politely asked for a free ride. Again, I offered to pay for his gas. Again, after rescheduling around the weather, I finally met him at his airfield, and on we went.

This plane was sure fast! After taking off, he handed me the controls, and I played with it a little. For all the talk about an ‘aerobatic’ plane, it was actually very stable and smooth. Sure, it only took a nudge of the stick to put it in a 30 degree bank, but it was not ‘jumpy’ or ‘feisty’, as I’d heard before.

In fact, at one point it was a little bumpy, and Ron suggested we climb to around 6,000 feet for smoother air. He pushed the throttle forward, and we shot upward at many many feet per second more than my trusty C152 will do. Pretty soon we were up at 6,000 ft., and things were smooth again. Ron then proceeded to show me slow flight, stalls, and then did a quick turn that got my heart pumping. After that, we did a couple of touch and go’s at Georgetown Municipal, and then headed back to his airfield.

Obviously, by the time we landed, I was sold on the RV-7A. When I offered to pay for the gas, Ron simply said “Don’t worry about it, any excuse to fly is good enough” He then added I could give him a ride in the ‘152 sometime. 🙂

Ok, so now I’m pretty sure I know what I want to build. Time to get ‘tooled up!

The following postings will detail my quest for the best value in tools….

Posted in Misc | Comments Closed

Not a whole lot, actually. I am an electrical engineer, and design analog circuits for a living. Not exactly related to building sheet metal airplanes, eh? That’s why after deciding to build an RV, I figured I’d better get some schoolin’ from the best!

So I signed us up for a builders workshop with George and Becki Orndorff in Forth Worth, TX. You see, they really know how this plane building business works. That’s why they offer their weekend class for $250, but for only an extra $50, you can bring your spouse! This way she can not only get pumped up about building the plane, but will actually learn the same skills as you, so she will make the ideal RV-building partner!

I don’t know about the rest of ya’ll, but I couldn’t have asked for a better partner! My wife is just as excited about this kit plane as I am, and I’ve discovered she is not only great at deburring, but she also makes a great riveter!!

Anyway, back to the Orndorff’s class. We showed up at their airport home/hangar/classroom on a Saturday morning, and were greeted on the driveway by George. He told us this would be a special class, because there were a bunch of guys from a school in Monterrey, Mexico, who were driving up for the weekend. They are going to build an RV-10 as a school project (!). George wasn’t sure about their English abilities, so he had hired a local college student to act as a translator.

Well, it turns out I graduated from the same school in Monterrey! I figured this ought to make for an interesting weekend!

The rest of the group showed up a few minutes later, and we got on with the class. They all spoke and understood English, so that was not an issue. We briefly went over aircraft construction methods, riveting, deburring, etc. We then started working on a simple project: attaching two aluminum plates with rivets. After that, we went on to the main project, which turns out to be the same ‘training project’ for sale at .

The training project is small piece of a control surface with a little spar, ribs, skins, etc. Enough to get a taste of what RV construction is like. We learned all about dimpling, rivet squeezing, back-riveting, countersinking, etc.

By the end of the class we not only had a cute little airfoil to take home, but more importantly, the confidence that indeed, my wife and I can build this sucker!

Sure, I could have ordered the training kit myself. I could have struggled through the instructions, trying to figure out if I was doing things right or if my rivets were acceptable. Again, it’s not like I’ve seen how things should be done before. Now at least I’ve handled a rivet gun and a pneumatic squeezer, and I think I can tell if a rivet is good or if it needs to be drilled out.

So, if you are thinking about building and RV, I would highly recommend you go visit George and Becki, and take your wife along!

Posted in Misc | Comments Closed